The Bermudan government has said it will withdraw a worrying draft bill that would have required the establishment of a statutory media council in the country, and included several provisions which were detrimental to press freedom, if the media fulfils its promise to set up a voluntary council, Premier Ewart Brown told members of parliament on Friday.

Premier Brown said that the Government would review a proposal by Bermudan media to establish a voluntary media council. The proposal, which was submitted to the government on Thursday 27 May, outlines the media’s plans to set up a voluntary and self-regulatory media council by mid-September.

“During this review period, the bill will remain on the order paper of the House of Assembly,” The Royal Gazette quoted Dr. Brown as saying. “When the Government is satisfied that the media-generated plan meets the objective, the Government will remove the bill from the order paper.”

The International Press Institute (IPI) welcomed the voluntary media council initiative last week, and called on the government to revoke the draft media bill.

“We welcome the government’s decision to review the media proposal to institute a voluntary, self-regulatory media council, and to put the draft media council bill on hold”, said IPI Director David Dadge. “We hope that the government will revoke the bill entirely following the review of the proposal.”